Make Life Easier with 3 Changes to PowerPoint’s Options dialog box


By Ellen Finkelstein
I’m starting to use the upcoming PowerPoint 2013 quite a bit and doing so has reminded me of some of the default PowerPoint settings that I hate. Here are three simple changes you can make that I think will make you a happier PowerPoint user. They apply to PowerPoint 2007 and 2010 as well.

No, you don’t want to automatically select the entire word!

Have you had the experience of trying to select a few characters in a word to change them? You drag across those letters, but PowerPoint jumps to select the entire word. But you don’t want to select the entire word! (This happens in Microsoft Word, too.) Grrrr! To be more specific, this behavior happens after you select one word, then as you move the mouse to select additional letters, PowerPoint selects the full preceding or following word; you cannot easily select individual letter of the words.

If you want more control, here are the steps to take:

  1. Choose File> Options. (In PowerPoint 2007, choose Office button> PowerPoint Options.)
  2. In the PowerPoint Options dialog box, click the Advanced category.
  3. Uncheck the “When Selecting, Automatically Select Entire Word” check box.
  4. Click OK.


No, you don’t want PowerPoint to change the size of your text!

Let’s say that you choose a theme or format a Slide Master for a slide title of 36 points. You choose that size because you like how it fits on your slide. Then, you type a long title and PowerPoint decides to make the text smaller to fit the title placeholder. All of a sudden, you have slide titles of different sizes and as you go from slide to slide, you don’t know what you’ll get. It looks very inconsistent.

The same automatic resizing can happen in the body text placeholder.

Here are the steps to stop PowerPoint from resizing your text:

  1. Choose File> Options. (In PowerPoint 2007, choose Office button> PowerPoint Options.)
  2. Click the Proofing category.
  3. Click the AutoCorrect Options button.
  4. Choose the AutoFormat as You Type tab.
  5. Uncheck the last 2 options on the tab: Autofit Title/Body Text to Placeholder
  6. Click OK twice.

 

So what do you do when you have a longer title or your text doesn’t fit? Here are some ideas:

  1. Edit your text so that it’s shorter.
  2. Expand the size of the placeholder slightly.
  3. Reduce the placeholder’s internal margin. I explain how here.

Of course, you can manually reduce the size of the font; sometimes you have to. But reducing the font size should be a last resort, so you shouldn’t let PowerPoint do it automatically.

About the Author:

Ellen Finkelstein is a noted presentation design consultant, Microsoft PowerPoint MVP and a multi-published author in the presentations field. For more information, visit http://www.ellenfinkelstein.com/

From Mediocre to Memorable: 3 Slide Makeovers

By Dave Zielinski

In the inaugural event of PresentationXpert’s new Webinar Wednesdays series last month, titled Take Your Slides from Mediocre to Memorable, PowerPoint MVP Ellen Finkelstein presented a number of compelling slide design tips and “made over” slides submitted by webinar participants.

Ellen stressed that even though most PowerPoint users aren’t professional designers, they can still create lively, high- impact, visually appealing presentations. Part of that is understanding that audiences remember pictures more than they do words, since the part of the brain devoted to visual input is much larger than the part for auditory input.

That means nobody, but nobody, loves slide after slide of bulleted text.

In Ellen’s Tell ‘n Show method, slide design is much more simplified. Text and visual, text and visual is the cadence. In this method a simple, explanatory heading goes on each slide, and there is often only one point per slide, meaning you may need to expand one slide to four.

Also, when you have text on a slide, think about how you can convey the concepts visually. Try to use photos that are literal or symbolic, or use iconic line art.

Here are makeovers of three different slides that demonstrate some of these concepts:

1) The Before version. Notice the lack of appealing graphics and text-heavy approach in this slide. To make the slide more compelling, Ellen converted it to SmartArt for PowerPoint 2007 and 2010, added a photo and rearranged some text. Used wisely, SmartArt can add color, shape and emphasis to data and text.

 

The After version:

 

2) The Before version. This slide not only is difficult  for audiences to read with its small font sizes, it’s text heavy. Ellen again used SmartArt to convert this slide to a more visually-appealing and easily-understood alternative, and made some changes in Excel as well.

The After version:

 

3) The Before version:

The First After Slide:

 

The Second After slide:

 

Kill Your Darlings

by Jon Thomas

When you’ve spent time and energy designing a PowerPoint presentation, it’s not easy to see your effort disappear with a swift stroke of the delete key. But in order to build a truly effective presentation, one that offers the audience exactly what they need (and nothing more or less), you’ll have to kill a few of your darlings.

It’s not simply about shortening a presentation, or finding reasons to negate all the hard work you put into crafting your presentation content and visuals. It’s about giving the audience only what they absolutely, positively NEED to hear and see. Anyone can dump all the information in their brain onto a bunch of slides. It takes intelligence and restraint to include only what is necessary.

Your audience wants the most important and useful content that matters to them. I can’t tell you what that is, but after years of designing presentations both for others and for myself, I know that the perfect presentation is always at least a little bit shorter than the one originally intended.

Steven King has some great perspective on the topic here. An editor once said to him, “2nd Draft = 1st Draft – 10%. Good luck.”

It hurts. I know. I’ve been there and had to leave some of my most beautiful slides and useful content on the bench. But like cleaning a wound, sometimes you have to go through a little pain if you want the pleasure of wowing your audience.

About the Author:

Jon Thomas is the founder of Presentation Advisors, a presentation design and training firm based in southern Connecticut. For more on the company’s services, visit www.presentationadvisors.com

Dare to Be Different — While Still Using PowerPoint

By Gavin Meikle

In the corporate world it’s often seen as wrong to swim against the tide and challenging the way things are done can take real guts. I’ve recently been working with a client to help him transform a bullet point-heavy PowerPoint presentation into something that supports rather than competes with his clear and energetic delivery style.

His concern was that everybody in his organization presented using PowerPoint the same way and he was fearful of taking a risk by deviating from the accepted PowerPoint style.

It occurred to me that there must be millions of corporate warriors out there who feel exactly the same way. They have sat through enough boring corporate bullet- point driven PowerPoint slides to know that they don’t work well, but they don’t have any reference experiences of people doing it differently, especially within their organization. They too don’t have the courage to dare to be different with PowerPoint. If this is you then read on…

Let’s start by considering what is stopping you daring to be different. Odds are it will be a thought or series of thoughts driving this reluctance which have probably never been tested. Let’s take a moment to consider whether any or all of these thoughts actually have any basis in reality.

1. Nobody else diverts from the standard bullet point-heavy formula

Can you be 100% sure of this? Have you seen every single presenter and presentation within your organisation? If there is any doubt in your mind then the possibility that others in your organization do sometimes break away from the limitations of the standard format must be real and so if they could do it, so could you.

2. If I dare to be different with PowerPoint I’ll be punished in some way

How do you know this is true? If excuse 1 is really true, and nobody has ever done it before, how can you know if they would be punished or not?

3. Deviating from the standard PowerPoint style is not allowed in our organization

How do you know that? Have you every seen it written down in a company manual or memo? Has your manager ever told you this explicitly?

4. It’s too difficult to use images and diagrams rather than lots of words

You have never done it so how do you know that it will be as difficult as you think? You’ll never know until you try, will you?

Why you should dare to be different with PowerPoint

  • Ask yourself what is more important, fitting in or being persuasive?
    • If the answer in your head is “fitting in,” then I ask you to really think about whether this belief is  true.
    • Do you REALLY want to be another faceless corporate warrior?
  • Consider the potential benefits coming from being the person known for giving “different” presentations
    • Greater visibility within your organization
    • Increase your chances of promotion
    • Set an example for your colleagues
Dare to be different with PowerPoint – How to get started?
  • Start small
    • I am not asking you to change everything overnight. A great place to start is by reducing the number of words on your slides. Think of your bullet points as headlines rather than full sentences.
    • For each bullet point, ask yourself “Does my audience REALLY need to read this as well as hear me say it ? ” If the answer is “no” then leave it off your slide
    • Learn how to animate your bullet points so that they appear one at a time allowing you to control what your audience is paying attention to. (see  the tutorial on the link)
    • Experiment with fewer bullet points and try replacing one or two with a picture image or graph
  • Start in safety

Go on, do your company, your colleagues and yourself a favour – dare to be different with PowerPoint and let me know how you get on.

About the Author:

Gavin Meikle is a trainer, speaker and coach with Inter-activ Presenting and Influencing, a presentation coaching skills firm in the United Kingdom. Meikle is an accomplished and experienced guest speaker and conference facilitator who has done everything from humorous after dinner events to motivational addresses.  Meikle also is a qualified Toastmaster and a member of the Professional Speakers Association (PSA).

Presenting Financial Data: Put Your Numbers on a Diet

By Dave Paradi

You are a presenter who deals with a lot of numbers. Maybe they are financial results, operational analysis, or market research. You live in Excel and love spreadsheets. So, naturally, when you have to present to others, you include almost every number you have. Doesn’t everyone love numbers the way you do?

Unfortunately, no.

I want to suggest what you should present instead of all the numbers. Let’s start with why presenters feel like they have to include all the numbers they’ve calculated. First, they believe that if they include everything, the audience will better understand what they are trying to say. Unfortunately, the opposite is true.

A slide full of numbers makes most people mentally check out. The second reason presenters include all the numbers is that they feel that they have to show how much work was done. If they don’t show a lot of numbers, the audience won’t think they worked hard doing the analysis. Trust me, they will be able to tell whether you worked hard or not in ways other than how many numbers are in your presentation.

I believe that the presenter has the responsibility to figure out what the numbers mean to the audience and only present that information. It may require a few numbers, but certainly not all the numbers in the analysis. As a presenter, look for a change between time periods and draw a conclusion on whether that is a positive or negative change. Look at the trend over a longer period of time and determine if that trend needs to change in order for the organization to succeed. Look at the differences in results between different regions or products to conclude where future efforts should be directed.

Your audience wants to know what the numbers mean to them.

When designing  slides to present your analysis, start by writing a headline that summarizes the one point that you want to communicate. If you have more than one key point, create more than one slide. This headline drives what visual you will put on the slide. Sketch the visuals, which may be a small summary table of numbers with indicators to show whether the numbers are good or bad, a graph showing a trend or relative results, or a diagram illustrating results through a process.

Whatever visual you select, it will support the headline that you wrote. And it won’t be a slide with a spreadsheet full of numbers.

Most professionals are passionate about their work and have an emotional attachment to it. That is what makes my suggestions even harder to implement. When I suggest only including a few of the numbers or a summary graph, it is natural to have an emotional reaction: “What do you mean I can’t show everything I did? Don’t you know how much work I put into this?”

I do know how much work you put in. And the audience will see your effort when you provide an insight that makes their decisions and work easier.

In a recent workshop I showed how an organization could take a slide with 600 numbers on it (I am not exaggerating, I counted), and reduce it to the ten numbers that the executives really needed to know. The improvement in clarity was amazing. You can achieve the same clarity by focusing on what the audience really needs to know.

If you present financial information with spreadsheets, you may be interested in the webinar I did on presenting financial information effectively using PowerPoint; you can read more and get the recording here.

About the Author:

Dave Paradi is the author of “The Visual Slide Revolution” and “102 Tips to Communicate More Effectively Using PowerPoint.” He is an expert at helping presenters communicate more effectively using persuasive PowerPoint presentations. For more information, visit his web site at www.thinkoutsidetheslide.com/

How to Use 3D Rotation Techniques in PowerPoint


In this article, I explain in detail how to use 3D rotation. I start with PowerPoint 2007 and PowerPoint 2010; then I explain where to find similar features in PowerPoint 2003.

In Part I of this series, on shadows, I showed you how to use shadows for both subtle and dramatic 3D effects. The second 3D technique I want to cover is bevels, which I’ve already explored in greater detail in this post, “Create professional-looking 3D effects with bevels.”

Bevels often work hand-in-hand with 3D rotation, especially when you specify a depth in the 3-D Format section of the Format Shape dialog box. That’s because you can’t see the depth until you rotate the object. These 2 objects (above) are the same, but only the right one shows the depth, because you’re looking at it from an angle. That’s what 3D rotation does–it shows you an object from an angle.

Many people are unaware of the 3D features of PowerPoint, but they’ve been around for a long time. Even PowerPoint 2003 lets you rotate objects in 3D, although the controls are not as precise.

Use 3D Rotation in PowerPoint 2007 and 2010

To create a shape with depth and rotate it, follow these steps in PowerPoint 2007 and 2010:

  1. Insert a shape.
  2. With the shape selected, right-click it and choose Format Shape. Move the Format Shape dialog box away from your shape so you can see both at the same time.
  3. Choose the 3-D Format category and enter a depth in the Depth section. Note that PowerPoint measures depth in points. There are 72 points in an inch. I created a rounded rectangle with a depth of 72 points, or 1 inch. PowerPoint adds the depth to the back of the object.
  4. Click the 3-D Rotation category in the Format Shape dialog box.

  1. Before fiddling with the X, Y and Z controls, try out some of the presets from the Presets drop-down list. You might find what you’re looking for in a lot less time.
  2. The X boxes rotate the shape to the left or right. This is a horizontal rotation because the X-axis is the horizontal axis. Enter a rotation or click the Left or Right boxes repeatedly until you get the rotation you want.
  3. The Y boxes rotate the shape up and down. This is a vertical rotation because the Y axis is the vertical axis. Enter a rotation or click the Up or Down boxes repeatedly until you get the rotation you want.
  4. The Z boxes rotate the shape clockwise and counterclockwise. Think of the Z axis sticking out of your computer monitor straight toward you. Then the shape rotates around that axis. Enter a rotation or click the Clockwise or Counterclockwise boxes repeatedly until you get the rotation you want. A Z-rotation is just like rotating a shape in 2D.

Note: When you use more than one axis, PowerPoint calculates first the X value, then the Y, and finally the Z, so that the effects are additive.

Here is a rounded rectangle with various X, Y and Z rotations:

9. You can also create perspective views and control the amount of foreshortening. If the Perspective item is grayed out, click the Presets drop-down list and choose one of the Perspective options. Then enter a number (in degrees) in the Perspective box, or click the arrow buttons. Here you see two rounded rectangles, one with 75° perspective and the other with 0° perspectives. Do you see how the left shape narrows at the bottom? That’s the foreshortening effect.

10. There’s also an interesting setting, Distance from Ground, also measured in points. You’ll be able to see the effect better from certain angles than from others. In effect, this moves the object forward or backward if you’re looking down from the top. Yes, you can even use a negative number!  But your object never disappears behind the slide, so it’s really an as-if effect.

PowerPoint 2003 Can Do 3D Too!

In PowerPoint 2003, select an AutoShape and click the 3-D Style button on the Drawing toolbar at the bottom of your screen. Choose a view. At the bottom of the 3-D Style menu, choose 3-D Settings to open the 3-D Settings toolbar. There you can nudge the view using the Tilt Up, Tilt Down, Tilt Left, and Tilt Right buttons. You can also change the depth of the object. Use the Direction button to change the viewpoint and choose a Parallel or Perspective view.

Cautions when using 3D

Here are 2 cautions when using 3D:

  1. Keep the same point of view for all objects on a slide and even for all slides.
  2. Don’t over-use 3D; it can make a slide overly busy and harder to understand.

About the Author:

Ellen Finkelstein can train you or your team to create high-impact, engaging, professional presentations for training, sales, business, or education. For more information on her PowerPoint/presentation training workshops and coaching, click here.

6 Big Don’ts for Ending Your Presentation

By Ben Decker

Even the strongest speakers can undercut a whole presentation with three seconds of wobbly indecision at the end. Those few seconds amount to the last impression you leave with your audience – it’s the last picture people will remember of you. You’ve spent your whole presentation building credibility for yourself and your idea, and that last impression has everything to do with how you hold yourself.

Watch your nonverbal behavior and body language. Not even a line like Patrick Henry’s, “Give me liberty…!” can bail you out if you act nervous, disgusted, insincere, or hurried. Here are six essential don’ts for ending your presentation.

1. Never blackball yourself

…with a critical grimace, a shake of the head, eyes rolled upward, a disgusted little sigh. So what if you’re displeased with yourself? Don’t insult your audience by letting them know you were awful; they probably thought you were pretty good. One lip curl in those last three seconds can wreck 30 minutes of credibility-building. Keep a light smile on your face, and you can grimace at the mirror in the bathroom later if you want.

2. Don’t step backwards

If anything, take a half-step toward your listeners at the end. Stepping back is a physical retreat, and audiences subconsciously pick up on this cue. While you’re at it, don’t step back verbally, either. Softening your voice and trailing off toward the end obviously doesn’t sound confident. Maintain your strong vocal projection, annunciation, and pitch variety. You need to end with a bang, not a whimper.

3. Don’t look away

Some speakers harken back to the last visual-aid or PowerPoint slide, as if for reinforcement. Some people look aside, unwilling to confront listeners dead in the eye at the last words. Murmuring thank you while staring off somewhere else isn’t the last impression you want to leave. Maintain good eye communication throughout.

4. Don’t leave your hands in a gestured position

In our programs, we recommend using the resting ready position (arms gently at the sides) at the end to physically signal your audience you’re finished. You must let them go visually, in addition to the closing remarks you’re making. If you keep your hands up at waist level, you look as if you have something more to say. In speaking, think of yourself as the gracious host or hostess as you drop your hands with an appreciative thank you.

5. Don’t rush to collect your papers

Or visual aids or displays. Stop and chat with people if the meeting is breaking up, then begin to tidy up in a calm, unhurried manner.  Otherwise, you may contradict your calm, confident demeanor as a presenter. Behavioral cues are being picked up by your audience throughout the entire presentation experience, even during post-presentation.

If you sit down and grimace or huff and puff, listeners notice that, too.

6. Don’t move on the last word

Plant your feet and hold still for a half-beat after the you in thank you. Think about adding some lightness and smile with your thank you to show your comfort and ease. You don’t want to look anxious to get out of there. If anything, you want to let people know you’ve enjoyed being with them and are sorry you have to go. Don’t rush off.

Paying attention to your behaviors at the end of your presentation, whether formal at the lectern or informal standing at a meeting, will project the confidence and credibility you seek.

About the Author:

Ben Decker is the president of Decker Communications, a presentation skills consulting firm that coaches senior executives and managers to transform business communications.  For more information, visit Decker Communications at www.decker.com

How to Use the ‘Remove Background’ Option in PowerPoint

By Geetesh BajajThe Remove Background option is among PowerPoint’s newest and most wonderful abilities. It lets you remove the background from an inserted picture — this can be a great feature if you want to remove a sky, a wall, any backdrop, or something else in a photograph so that the slide background shows through as transparent within the removed parts of the picture.Follow these steps to learn how the Remove Background option works:1. Before you start, we assume you already have a picture inserted on your slide. It helps if the parts of the picture you want to remove are fairly different in color from the rest of the picture, although as you get more proficient with PowerPoint’s Remove Background option, you will be able to work with more complicated compositions.Look at our sample picture, as shown in Figure 1 — you will notice that the color of the flower is distinctly different from the rest of the picture.


Figure 1:
Picture with fairly distinct background and foreground areas2. Select the picture to bring up the Format Picture tab (highlighted in red in Figure 2) of the Ribbon. Activate this contextual tab by clicking on it — locate the Adjust group, and click the Remove Background button (highlighted in blue in Figure 2).

Figure 2:
Remove Background button within Format Picture tab of the RibbonOnce you click the Remove Background button, PowerPoint makes a guess and shows the areas that it ascertains you want to remove (see Figure 3).

Figure 3:
Background area selected by default for removalIn addition, note these changes in the PowerPoint interface:a. You will see a selection box, indicated by the eight handles shown in Figure three. You use these handles to resize the selection box.b. You will also see the Background Removal message window providing you with the instructions for removing the picture background. Of course, you can close it at any time by clicking the Close (x) button on its top left.c. The active slide within the Slides Pane will show a preview of the picture with the background areas removed, as shown highlighted in green in Figure 3. Nothing is removed yet — this is just a preview.


3. You can see that a major portion of the picture has been covered with a pink overlay. This pink overlay indicates the background areas to be removed. Only those areas that still show the original colors of the picture will be retained.At this stage, you need to drag the handles of the selection box to help PowerPoint decide the areas of the picture you want to remove or retain as explained below:a. You can remove more areas by making the selection box smaller. Click on any of the handles and drag inside the picture area — wait for a while for PowerPoint to add more pink areas to your picture.b.You can retain areas by making the selection box larger. Click and drag any of the handles outwards — again wait for a while thereafter for PowerPoint to reduce the pink areas within your picture.Figure 4 shows the picture with the selection box resized to reduce the pink areas. Compare the areas highlighted in pink in Figures 3 and 4.

Figure 4: Pink overlaid areas reduced by enlarging the selection boxFor simple pictures, this is all you need to do. If you are happy with the results, go ahead and click anywhere on the slide outside the picture, or just press the Return key on your keyboard. This will make all pink overlaid background areas of the selected picture transparent, as shown in Figure 5 below.
Figure 5: Picture with background removed

4 . Save your presentation.
If your picture is busy and does not have clearly demarcated areas, then consider exploring our Advanced Remove Background Options tutorial.Tip: The Remove Background works not only with inserted pictures, but also works with any picture that is used as a fill for a shape.

About the Author:
Geetesh Bajaj has been designing and training with PowerPoint for 15 years and is a Microsoft PowerPoint MVP (Most Valuable Professional.) He heads Indezine (www.indezine.com)  a presentation design studio and content development organization based in Hyderabad, India. The site attracts more than a million page views each month and has thousands of free PowerPoint templates and other goodies for visitors to download. He also runs another PowerPoint- related site (http://www.ppted.com) that provides designer PowerPoint templates.
Geetesh also is the author of the best-selling book Cutting Edge PowerPoint for Dummies and three subsequent books on PowerPoint 2007 for Windows and one on PowerPoint 2008 for Mac.

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